Super Bowl Finals Set for 2012 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships
Eight Divisional Singles Champions also Crowned
MOBILE, AL (Oct. 13) – Eight divisional singles champions were crowned under the hot southern sun this afternoon at the 2012 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships. The semifinals of all the Super Bowl matches were also played today, setting up tomorrow’s championship matches.
Today’s Super Bowl semifinals featured the divisional winners from Division’s II and III as well as NAIA and JUCO. In all four semifinals (men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles), Division II took on Division III, while NAIA faced JUCO. The winners of the Super Bowl titles will earn a spot in the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which will take place Nov. 8-11 at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The national tournament will feature the best men’s and women’s players from the Division I level.
In the women’s Super Bowl, Barbora Krtickova of Armstrong Atlantic and Tiffany William of Auburn Montgomery won their semifinal singles matches to advance to tomorrow’s championship match. Krtickova earned her spot in the finals by taking out Emory’s Gabrielle Clark 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals. If Krtickova wins tomorrow’s singles match, she will give Armstrong their first women’s Super Bowl singles title since 2009. Auburn’s William advanced to the championship match as she took down JUCO winner Chloe Murphy from the State College of Florida, 6-4, 6-3. A win for William tomorrow would give Auburn Montgomery back-to-back Super Bowl singles titles, which has not been done in seven years.
Krtickova will also be searching for a Super Bowl doubles title as she teamed up with Aleksandra Filipovski for a 6-2, 6-2 win in the semis over Emory’s Emma Taylor and Clark. A win tomorrow in singles and doubles for Krtickova would make her the first women’s player to win both titles since 2008. The pair from Armstrong will take on Tyler Junior College’s duo of Fausthy Pietersz and Nelo Phiri, who with a win in the Super Bowl final, would give Tyler Junior College back-to-back Super Bowl doubles titles. Pietersz and Phiri had a tough semifinal match to get to the championship as they edged SCAD-Savannah’s Maja Plavsic and Theresa Schmaus, 6-4, 6-4.
Tomorrow’s men’s Super Bowl finals will have a familiar feel to the women’s one as Armstrong’s Georgi Rumenov advanced in both singles and doubles draws. Rumenov breezed through his semifinal match against Trinity’s Aaron Skinner, winning 6-2, 6-1 and then teamed up with Daniel Regan for a 6-1, 6-1 win over Williams College in the doubles semifinal. If Rumenov is able to win both Super Bowl finals tomorrow, he will become just the third men’s player to do so in tournament history and the first to do it since 2002.
Rumenov’s opponents in tomorrow’s Super Bowl finals will hail from different schools as well as different divisions of college tennis. Adrien Berkowicz of Tyler Junior College will face Rumenov in the singles final. Berkowicz advanced to the finals after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first set against Embry-Riddle’s Patrick Besch, who after surviving a three and half hour match in the NAIA divisional final, was forced to retire due to injury. Nicolas Pinones and Tim Hewitt of Auburn Montgomery advanced to the doubles finals after a 6-1, 6-4 win in the semis against Donovan McSeverey and Brady Bohrenstedt of Collin College. Pinones and Hewitt will look become the first team from Auburn Montgomery to win the Super Bowl doubles title since 2009.
Annie Hwang of BYU-Hawaii won her second consecutive Division II singles title today as she defeated Krtickova in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. Hwang’s run to a second singles title was nothing short of dominant as she won 36 of 46 games played this year and in total, 72 of 91 singles games played at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships. With today’s win, Hwang became the first Division II women’s player to win back-to-back divisional championships since 1999. Despite Hwang’s dominant play, Krtickova served as the Division II representative in the Super Bowl as Hwang did not compete in the semifinals in order to respect the BYU institutional policy that does not permit Sunday competition, and at the same time, to ensure that the Super Bowl finals would be played on Sunday (rather than a walkover).
A similar singles match was played in the finals on the men’s side of Division II as top seeded Georgi Rumenov of Armstrong Atlantic cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Hans Hach of Abilene Christian. Like the women’s champ, Rumenov had a dominant tournament, winning 36 of 48 games. Rumenov’s win makes him the first Armstrong player to win the divisional title since 2008.
The Division III singles finals were nail bitters as both men’s and women’s matches came down to the wire. In a rematch of last year’s women’s final, Emory’s Gabrielle Clark and Lok-Sze Leung from Middlebury squared off for an exciting championship match. In the first set, defending champion Leung recorded a late break to take the set at 7-5 but a resilient Clark responded by taking the second set at 6-3. After earning an early break in the third, Clark would hold on the rest of the way out as she took the match and divisional title by a score of 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Clark’s win ended a nine year title drought for Emory as Jolyn Taylor was Emory’s last divisional champion back in 2003.
In a showdown between two unseeded players in the Division III men’s singles final, it would be Trinity’s Aaron Skinner who would walk away with the title, but not without a fight. After dropping the first set to North Carolina Wesleyan’s Robert Kjellberg 6-1, Skinner rallied to take the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(5). In the third, Kjellberg earned a late break to go up 6-5 with the opportunity to serve for the championship. However, Skinner played a phenomenal return game at 6-5 to earn the break and force a tiebreaker. Just like the second set breaker, Skinner survived the tiebreak to win in the match and title at 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5).
Another three set match was played in the NAIA women’s singles final as Auburn Montgomery’s Tiffany William took on Tetiana Kovalska of St. Thomas. Kovalska edged William in the opening set, 7-5 but William bounced back by earning a single break in both the second and third sets to win the title, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Today’s final was the only match William did not win in straight sets but the outcome remained the same as she brought home Auburn Montgomery’s second consecutive divisional title.
Not to be outdone by the women, the men’s NAIA singles final was also decided in a three set thriller. Second seeded Patrick Besch of Embry-Riddle was able to win the opening set against top seeded Nicolas Pinones of Auburn Montgomery, 7-5. Pinones came back in the second set, winning it at 7-5 to force a third. From there, with both players refusing to give in, a third set tiebreaker was needed to decide the outcome of the match. After three and half hours of play and a very intense tiebreaker, it would be Embry-Riddle’s Besch who would come out on the winning side, taking the match at 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(4).
After winning the doubles title last night, top seeded Fausthy Pietersz of Tyler Junior College looked for her second JUCO women’s title of the 2012 tournament as she took on the State College of Florida’s Chloe Murphy. Well-placed approach shots and crunching volleys led to Murphy taking the first set at 6-4. Murphy would then find herself up an early break in the second set at 4-2 but Pietersz won five of the final six games to force a third set. In the third, Murphy kept the pressure on as she continued to crowd the net which eventually paid off as she went on to win the match in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Murphy’s title is the first USTA/ITA National Small College divisional title in school history for the State College of Florida.
Adrien Berkowicz of Tyler Junior College continued to dominate the JUCO men’s single draw as he claimed the divisional singles title. Berkowicz posted a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win over Jerel Pleasant of Geogia Perimeter to bring home Tyler Junior College’s first men’s singles divisional title in 10 years.
Tomorrow’s Super Bowl finals will being at 10:00 a.m. CDT with both men’s and women’s singles match.